Tuesday, 26 March 2013

What would the world be like if Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellows didn't exist?

One of the benefits of Facebook has been the connection of Zontians all over the world. I am starting to electronically meet people from all over the globe and we get glimpses into each other's Zonta events.

zonta facebook d24

This year it was such a joy to see so many posted stories of celebration events held for the new Amelia Earhart Fellows. Then I had the joy of finally having such an event here in Canberra for two fab young women and discover why everyone is so excited about these women.


Let me quote the official description:

"Established in 1938 in honor of famed pilot and Zontian, Amelia Earhart, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship is awarded annually to women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences and aerospace-related engineering. The Fellowship of US$10,000, awarded to 35 Fellows around the globe each year, may be used at any university or college offering accredited post-graduate courses and degrees in these fields."

amelia earhart fellowship zonta

The full details of the Fellowship, it's history and the recipients, can be found on the Zonta International website.


At a lovely dinner, the two Canberra based clubs came together and met two new recipients who had come to Canberra to continue their studies.

Now, when I was in my twenties, I was thinking about the next chocolate bar and how to pay the electricity bill. So I find Amelia Earhart Fellows fascinating! They are working on issues and topics I never imagined existed! And this stuff is about aeronautics and outer space and physics and billions of light years - it is mind stretching to say the least.

Let me introduce two ladies who are involved in some rather astonishing studies!

amelia earhart fellow priyanka dhopade
Priyanka Dhopade, from Canada
Priyanka gave us an overview of her work on fatigue and stress fractures in jet engine blades. I can't really explain it to you but her research is focused on being able to more accurately predict the life and replacement need of these blades before they break and cause a catastrophic jet explosion!

Keeping these things predictably in the air is useful. Look at this! Physics, construction materials, engineering - wow! (click to embiggen)
Of course today Priyanka is working on defence force jet engines, but tomorrow that technology is going into the 747-400 ER (extended range Sydney to Dallas!) that takes me to Orlando.

amelia earhart fellow Sheila Tobing
Sheila Tobing, from Indonesia
Now Sheila is working in an area that is a sizzling hot topic at the moment - Micro Air Vehicles (MAV). But Sheila is not just making things smaller, she is studying the way in which the wings of bees flap (or aeroelasticity) to see how this can be applied to these teeny tiny MAVs, especially with regard to carrying heavy loads.

Let the speculation begin! Why do you think this would this be of interest to the defence force? (click to embiggen)
Fascinating, right?!


For those who, like myself, had not seen this before, the Fellows receive a certificate and a pair of AE "wings" from Zonta International. In addition to speaking about their work, Priyanka and Sheila were presented with their with these by our District 24 Governor, Dr. Kerrie Bigsworth

"Thank you for your work ladies ....

zonta amelia earhart fellowship certificate
...... and please keep doing it!"

and this is their little Amelia Earhart Fellowship 'wings' pin

zonta amelia earhart fellow wings pin
Way cool!

There are 1,368 Fellows in total, so can you imagine the combined intelligence, efforts, outputs, outcomes, contributions supporting the growth of aeronautical engineering, space sciences,  engineering? Also consider the addition of dynamic women entering male dominated fields, being role models and mentors for other young women and stepping up into influential careers. 

So what you think? Do you think it can be possible that the world is a better place because of the efforts of these 1,368 women? 

So how about your Club? 
  • Are you working with your local University to encourage AE Fellow applications? 
  • Perhaps, like us, AE Fellows have come to your local University to continue their studies? 
  • Has your club donated to the AE Fellowship fund with the Zonta International Foundation?

So rather than look for another chocolate bar I'm off to read To Space and Back.


In a happy coincidence, a fellow club member posted the following story regarding Amelia Earhart. This was the speech given, at this ceremony, by Dr. Susan Riding - a member of my club, a member of the ZI AE Selection panel and herself a twice award AE Fellow. Check out this link to read the speech and learn the story of Amelia.

zonta amelia earhart fellow susan riding
Mrs Riding tells the tale

When we get to Orlando in 2014, perhaps we could go out to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral?


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